The Rev. John Miller, Newton-on-Ayr, has sent the following report:-
Interesting reports of the Lord's work in the larger towns of Scotland have been from time to time appearing, but, so far as I know, nothing has hitherto been said regarding the town of Ayr. We have now, however, reason to join with others in saying, "The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
During the past six months there have been unmistakable indications of a growing earnestness in regard to divine things. Not a few of the Lord's people were marvellously quickened, and the number of private meetings for prayer greatly increased. The result of this soon appeared in an increased attendance at congregational prayer meetings, and the coming of one and another to speak with their minister of the things of the Kingdom. Young men's meetings for prayer spontaneously arose, and one, at least, of a similar character was formed by the young women. A spirit of expectancy was thus created, and during the past few weeks we have witnessed the long-expected answer to our prayers.
In the month of February we were favoured with a visit from Sheriff Campbell and Mr. Brown Douglas of Edinburgh; and to the solemn accounts which they gave of the work in the city, not a little of the impulse given to the cause is due. Subsequent visits by Mr Mossman and a deputation from the young men's committee in Edinburgh, together with occasional addresses by the Sheriff, produced blessed and widespread results.
On Tuesday, 26th ult., Messrs Moody and Sankey visited the town. Great interest had been excited, and from all the districts round multitudes came in hope of hearing them. The Old Church - the largest in town - was selected, and long before the hour of meeting was densely packed. About 1800 people must have been present. Shortly after the hour Mr Moody arrived and gave an intensely interesting address. From beginning to end the deepest solemnity pervaded the meeting, while not a few were melted to tears. An effect no less striking was produced by Mr Sankey's singing; and, as we left the building, it was with the full conviction that the Lord had been with us of a truth. In the evening, at seven o'clock the same building was crowded again--Mr. Moody delivering a still more powerful address. For the overflow, Cathcart Street United Presbyterian Church was opened. Shortly before eight, Mr Sankey, accompanied by Rev. Mr. Parkhurst of Chicago, came in, and after both had spoken, and a number of solos had been sung with great effect, all who wished to be spoken to about spiritual things were requested to go to the Free Church, and the meeting was closed.
Great care was taken to allow no one to enter save as an anxious inquirer, and it was found that upwards of 150 had come in. With these Mr Moody and Mr Sankey, many of the ministers of the town, elders, etc., held conversation and shortly after ten o'clock Mr Moody closed with prayer.
One marked feature of the work is the number of Christian families into which the blessing has come. Of course this was looked for, but the extent to which it prevails has far surpassed all expectation. In some families there are four who profess to have received a blessing, in several three, in others two, and so on; while in a few, every member of the household professes to have found the Saviour. "Oh, sir;" said one to me the other day, "this is a changed house now. We used to think that if we went to church and read our Bibles, and taught the little girl to say her prayers, it was all right. But oh, sir, all that is changed now."
A considerable number advanced in years have come under deep impressions, and are, we hope, trusting in Christ; but the great body of those who have been awakened consists of young men and women, many of whom speak of having received their first impressions at their minister's Bible class. The earnestness and zeal of many of these young people for the salvation of their companions is very touching. Again and again have they come to me bringing one or more of their friends who were in anxiety, and in not a few cases have they seen cause to rejoice in their salvation.
We are, I believe, seeing only the first fruits of what promises to be a great harvest of souls. There is much that I would like to tell in proof of this; but a paper dealing with such delicate matters must be written in the quiet of the study, instead of the bustle of the Assembly meetings.
"Times of Blessing," June 4th, 1874.
We had another most interesting meeting in Newton Free Church on Friday evening addressed by Rev. Mr Talon from Edinburgh, and one of the Edinburgh young men. There was a very deep feeling in the meeting and a large number remained behind. On Saturday evening, Sheriff Campbell and two of the Edinburgh deputies met a large gathering of the Academy pupils. This was found to be so profitable and encouraging, that it is proposed to carry it on regularly. James Balfour, Esq., is to conduct the meeting this week. There is no more significant feature of the present movement in the town than the hold the truth appears to have got on so many of the present and recent pupils of the Academy. The enthusiastic spirit of many of the young men who have recently got into a living relation with God gives a fine glow and reality to the work. It is easy to speak with such earnestness to back one, and the way they plead with and for their companions has more power than twenty meetings. There was a gathering of a large number of these young men in the Assembly Rooms on Sunday morning to meet the Edinburgh deputies. They have in view the organising of a Young Men's Christian Association.
Wallacetown Established Church was crowded in the evening to hear Sheriff Campbell and one of the Edinburgh deputies, and a large overflowing meeting almost filled the Free Church opposite (Rev. Mr Rowan's). The two Edinburgh men spoke there in succession. There was a good after-meeting. On Monday, a monthly prayer meeting, which has been kept up ever since the Iast revival, sometimes with a very small attendance, met in Newton Free Church. All who had got good recently, and any who were anxiously seeking the truth, were invited to come. There were upwards of 300 present. Could this meeting be kept up every week for the next few months on the same footing, nothing would contribute more to give the present lively impression strength and permanence. The writer has seen a good deal of the work in other places, but nowhere has he seen it marked by more simplicity and genuineness than at Ayr.
"Times of Blessing," June 18th, 1874.
This is approximately where the church was.